Posted by: bkivey | 20 March 2015

Motor Voter

Oregon governor Kate Brown (filling in for ousted John Kitzhaber) recently signed a ‘Motor Voter’ bill into law. Under the law, anyone receiving an Oregon driver’s license will be automatically registered to vote. As Secretary of State, this was one of Ms. Brown’s pet initiatives. No surprise that she jumped on the chance to enact it into law. I’ve never been a fan of these sorts of initiatives, because they lower the bar on something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

A Q & A gives the details on the law, and it all looks very aboveboard. The primary concern on these types of laws is that they open the door to voter fraud: whether by enabling non-citizens to vote, or enrolling people who are resting in peace. The State says that non-citizens won’t be allowed to register, but this reassurance rings a bit hollow given Oregon’s history.

Several years ago there was a ballot initiative to give non-citizens drivers licenses. A similar measure was defeated in the last election. The problem is that in the US a driver’s license (or State-issued ID card) is the de facto national identity document. You have to show one to get on an airplane, rent a car, or do any of a myriad of things, except, well, vote. Oregon state government was only deterred from issuing driver’s licenses to non-citizens after the Feds told them that Oregon citizens would face difficulty in boarding airplanes with a document that didn’t establish citizenship. There was a period of time when I was concerned that I would be a 2nd-class citizen in my own country because the state leadership was too stupid, or ideologically blinded, to see what they were doing.

The argument for establishing voter registration with driver licensing is that it makes the process easier. Easier than what? All one had to do previously was go to the county clerk’s office, show proof of citizenship and residency, and register. Changes in party or address can be taken care of online. In an election year, there are time horizons to meet, but elections occur at fixed times; it’s not like it’s a big surprise. I would argue that if someone can’t be bothered to expend the minimal effort required to meet the standard for voter registration, perhaps they shouldn’t be voting in the first place.

As for voter fraud, the State maintains that non-citizens with driver’s licenses and resident aliens will be excluded. Uh-huh. These safeguards are all dependent on state computer systems. Government computer systems are notorious for their ease of hackability and general insecurity. And what’s to prevent future Administration’s from playing games with the data? One of the things I learned in engineering school and later as a project manager was not to introduce more variables than absolutely necessary.  KISS is a good idea. Motor voter introduces variables into a system that was working pretty well.

Voting is a Western societal institution, but Progressives have no use for institutions save how they can be suborned to keeping them in power. The course is predictable. After a while, people will start to complain that excluding non-citizens and legal aliens is ‘unfair’. Why, they’re working  and living here, paying taxes; they should get a say in how things are run. There shouldn’t be any barriers to registration, up to and including someone getting off a plane and signing up to vote in the local election that day.

And it’s all bullshit.

A viable, dynamic, successful society requires standards, provided those standards can be reasonably met by the majority of citizens. The lower the standards, the lower the standard of living, and the less viable, the society that employs them.

Scott County, Tennessee

Occasionally I’ll be diverted by some random piece of information, and spend some time looking into it. I read an article that mentioned Scott County, TN, and took a passing interest. It turns out that Scott County seceded from the Confederacy, and was briefly it’s own self-declared country. So we have a county that seceded from an entity that seceded from a larger entity.  The climates better than Texas. Maybe a place to consider.

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